LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Flood Control projects across the state have received a boost of funding from the Texas Legislature with Governor Greg Abbott signing Senate Bill 8 on Tuesday.
The bill appropriated $150 million to The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) for repair and rehabilitation projects involving earthen dams built for the purpose of slowing and redirecting dangerous floodwaters.
The United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) originally built 2,041 dams across the State with the intent being that local sponsors supply operation and maintenance.
There are currently 622 dams that are classified as high hazard locations, meaning if the dam fails, there is the potential for loss of life. Of that number, 499 are in need of rehabilitation and upgrades to meet safety criteria, according to the TSSWCB.
The funds in the appropriations bill will be administered through grants to local sponsors in Soil and Water Conversation Districts to maintain operation of the dams and provide safety updates.
“The primary purpose of these Flood Control Dams is to protect lives and property by reducing the velocity of floodwaters, thereby reducing flows to a safer rate.” said Barry Mahler, TSSWCB Chair.
Senator Charles Perry, who authored the appropriations bill, says addressing funds for the State’s dam system will help maintain safeguards for Texans as the State continues to grow.
“The funding of the earthen dam program is a responsible, and proactive measure to ensuring the safety of the citizens of the state as we continue to grow into areas which once had little development,” Sen. Perry said.
While securing funding for the projects, Senate Bill 8 also establishes a ten-year plan to bring all high hazard dams up to safety standards.
“TSSWCB recognizes the monumental importance in the upkeep of flood control structures and is proud that the Legislature chose to make a significant investment to safeguard a critical element of the State’s infrastructure.” said Rex Isom, TSSWCB Executive Director and current Chair of the National Watershed Coalition.
The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, established in 1939 and governed by seven board members who are actively involved in agriculture or silviculture, works in conjunction with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts across Texas to encourage the wise and productive use of natural resources.